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Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics

1 1.1

BASICS PURPOSE OF THE SUBJECT

Occupational safety and health (OSH) is a cross-disciplinary1 area concerned with protecting Safety Health Welfare of people engaged in work or employment. As a secondary effect, OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, suppliers, nearby communities, and other members of the public who are impacted by the workplace environment. Occupational safety and health may involve interaction among many cognate disciplines, including Occupational medicine, Occupational (or industrial) hygiene, Public health, Safety engineering, Health physics, Ergonomics, Toxicology, Epidemiology, Industrial relations, Public policy, Sociology, Psychology. Since 1950, the International Labour Organizations (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shared a common definition of occupational health (See Appendix for websites of these organisations). It was adopted by the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health at its first session in 1950 and revised at its twelfth session in 1995. The definition reads: "Occupational health should aim at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities; and, to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job." The reasons for establishing good occupational safety and health standards are frequently identified as: Moral: an employee should not have to risk injury at work, nor should others associated with the work environment. Economic: many governments realize that poor occupational safety and health performance results in cost to the State (e.g. through social security payments to the incapacitated, costs for medical treatment, and the loss of the "employability" of the worker). Employing organisations also sustain costs in the event of an incident at work (such as legal fees, fines, compensatory damages, investigation time, lost production, lost goodwill from the workforce, from customers and from the wider community). Legal: occupational safety and health requirements may be reinforced in civil law and/or criminal law; it is accepted that without the extra "encouragement" of potential regulatory action or litigation, many organisations would not act upon their implied moral obligations.

Crossdisciplinarity describes a method that crosses disciplinary boundaries but does so from a foreign angle and with no cooperation. Basically, crossdisciplinary approaches attempt to explain a subject in the terms of a foreign method. Some good examples of such interaction would be describing the physics of music or the politics of literature. E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009

Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics

1.2

THE MAIN DILEMA

The struggle to eliminate or reduce the accidents that can and do occur and the injuries and damages that result were and have been predicated chiefly on two mutually opposing aspects: Costs of accident prevention; Moral regard for human life and well-being. The moral aspect has come about because of massive numbers of accidental deaths and injuries. It was felt by influential persons who knew of the effects of accidents. There were calls for corrective actions and new laws to safeguard workers and the public. Gradually compromises have come about between the costs of accident prevention and those imposed for moral and legal aspects. Many of the larger corporations have found the mutual consideration and compromise beneficial and workers are safer to a higher degree than if no safeguards were provided. The result was fewer walkouts, strikes, and inefficient operations because workers were slowed by their need to prevent and protect themselves against hazards. The companies also benefited because of less costly litigation and lower insurance premium costs. Unfortunately, many small companies still believe erroneously that safety programs are nonproductive and unprofitable. Their safety efforts are minimal and accident and injury rates are higher than those of large companies. The chief complaint when any new law or mandatory standard concerning safety is being considered or has been enacted is that the increased costs will put them out of business. To such organizations, it therefore appears that monetary aspects are more important than the moral considerations. 1.3 1.3.1 OSH FROM THE POSITION OF RISK ANALYSIS AND MANAGEMENT Risk assessment

Modern occupational safety and health legislation usually demands that a risk assessment be carried out prior to making an intervention (Figure 1.1). Risk assessment is the cornerstone of OSH in Europe. Risk assessment is a dynamic process which allows companies to put in place a proactive policy in managing workplace hazards. The most important peace of European legislation relevant to risk assessment is the framework directive 89/391/EEC [EC 1989].
Activity
(exploration, mining, production, processing, transportation etc.)

Hazards
(physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial etc.)

Accidents
(physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial etc.)

Likelihood of accidents
(probability, annual freuency, etc.)

Outcome (Losses)
(injuries, monetary loss, etc.)

Risk = Likelihood Losses

Fig 1.1 Position of the workplace hazards and workplace accidents in the procedure of risk assessment

This risk assessment should: Identify the hazards at workplace created by a business activity; Identify all workers that can be affected by the hazard and how they can be affected; Evaluate the risk; Identify and prioritise the required actions. The calculation of risk is based on the likelihood or probability of the harm being realised and the severity of the consequences. This can be expressed mathematically as a quantitative assessment (by assigning low, medium and high likelihood and severity with integers and multiplying them to give a risk factor), or as a description of the circumstances by which the harm could arise i.e. qualitative.
E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009

Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics

The assessment should be recorded and reviewed periodically and whenever there is a significant change to work practices. The assessment should include practical recommendations to control the risk. Once recommended controls are implemented, the risk should be re-calculated to determine of it has been lowered to an acceptable level. Generally speaking, newly introduced controls should lower risk by one level, i.e., from high to medium or from medium to low. The precautionary principle of OSH is an increasingly used method for reducing potential chemical or biological OSH risks. 1.3.2 Risk management Risk assessment is followed by risk management which is lowering the threats from known hazards whilst maximizing any related benefits and avoiding disproportionate beroucracy (Figures 1.2 and 1.3). Risk management aims at producing savings in insurance premiums by first defining and then minimizing areas of industrial and other risk. It seeks not to discredit insurance arrangements but to promote the concept of insuring only what is necessary in terms of risk. On this basis, the manageable risks are identified, measured and either eliminated or controlled, and the financing of the remaining or residual risks, normally by insurance, takes place at a later stage.
Activity Hazards Accidents Likelihood of accidents Risk Risk management: dealing with risk by means of four strategies: risk avoidance risk retention risk transfer risk reduction Risk assessment

Outcome (Losses)

Fig 1.2 Risk assessment and risk management in the procedure of the quantitative risk assessment

Risk management has been variously defined as [Stranks 2002]: The minimization of the adverse effects of pure and speculative risks within a business; The identification, measurement and economic control of the risks that threaten the assets and earnings of a business or other enterprise; The identification and evaluation of risk and the determination of the best financial solution for coping with the major and minor threats to a companys earnings and performance; The identification, analysis and degree of control exercised of risks which have the potential to threaten the assets or well-being of an enterprise; control implies both the physical and financial steps which may eliminate, reduce or transfer the risk. Risk management strategies include risk avoidance, risk retention, risk transfer and risk reduction (Figure 1.2). The outcome of the risk management process is a control of risk by one of these stgrategies. Risk avoidance is a risk management strategy involving a conscious decision on the part of an employer to avoid completely a particular risk by, for instance, discontinuing or modifying the activities or operations that created the risk. An example might be the replacement of manual handling operations by a mechanical handling system. Risk retention is a risk management strategy whereby risk is retained within an organization and any consequent loss is financed by the organization. There are two features of risk retention:

E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009

Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics

Risk retention with knowledge. In this case, a conscious decision is made to meet any resulting loss from within an organizations resources. Decisions on which risks that should be retained can only be made after all the risks have been identified, measured, and evaluated. Risk retention without knowledge. This generally arises from a lack of knowledge of the existence of a risk or an omission to insure against that risk. Situations where risks have not been identified and evaluated can result in this form of risk retention. Risk reduction, as part of the risk management process, implies the implementation within an organization of some form of loss control programme directed at protecting the organizations assets (manpower, machinery, materials and money) from wastage caused by accidental loss. Risk reduction strategies operate in two stages: Collection of data on as many loss-producing incidents as possible and the installation of a programme of remedial action; The collation of all areas where losses arise from loss-producing incidents, e.g. death, major injury, property damage, and the formulation of strategies directed at reducing these losses. Risk transfer implies the legal assignments of the costs of certain potential losses from one party to another, e.g. from an organization to an insurance company.

Figure 1.3 The risk management process as applied to a highly practical situation (the cartoon of S. Harris http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.com/)

1.4

OSH LEGISLATION AND RISK MANAGEMENT

Different states take different approaches to legislation, regulation, and law enforcement. An understanding of the basic legal requirements in the field of safety can be a daunting task. Roughly the safety law can be divided into the law directed to assurance of reasonably practicable safety level and the law regulating the liability of employers in case of accidents (Figure 1.4). The safety law simply expects employers to behave in a way that demonstrates good management and common sense. They are required to look at what the hazards are and take sensible measures to tackle them. The European safety law requires every employer to carry out a risk assessment. If there are five or more employees in the workplace, the significant findings of the risk assessment need to be recorded. In a place like an office, risk assessment should be straightforward; but where there are serious hazards, such as those on a construction site or when construction work is undertaken in a chemical plant or on an oil rig, it is likely to be more complicated. In a place like an office, risk assessment should be straightforward; but where there are serious hazards, such as those on a construction site or when construction work is undertaken in a chemical plant or on an oil rig, it is likely to be more complicated.

E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009

Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics


Activity

Hazards

Safety law

Accidents

Likelihood of accidents

Outcome (Losses)

Liability law

Figure 1.4 The overlap of the law in the field of OSH with the procedure of the risk assessment

In the European Union, member states have enforcing authorities to ensure that the basic legal requirements relating to occupational safety and health are met. In many EU countries, there is strong cooperation between employer and worker organisations (e.g. Unions) to ensure good OSH performance as it is recognized this has benefits for both the worker (through maintenance of health) and the enterprise (through improved productivity and quality). In 1996 the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work was founded. The European legislation in the field of OSH includes regulations, directives, proposals, recommendations, decisions, and other texts. A systemised representation of these documents can be found in the website of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (Appendix). The full texts of the documents can be retrieved from the EUR-Lex database (Appendix). The main set of legislative documents consists of directives on OSH established to protect the health and safety of Europes workers. Since the 1960s, developments in the process industries have resulted in large quantities of toxic and flammable substances being stored and transmitted in locations that could, in the event of failure, affect the public. Society has become increasingly aware of these hazards as a result of major accidents which involve both process plant and public such as Flixborough (1974), Seveso (1976), Bhopal (1984), Toulouse (2001), Texas City (2005). These disasters in Flixborough and Seveso drew attention to the lack of formal controls throughout the Europe. This prompted the adoption of legislation aimed at the prevention and control of such accidents. In 1982, the first directive 82/501/EEC - so-called Seveso directive - was adopted. In 1997, the Seveso directive was replaced by the directive 96/82/EC, so-called Seveso II directive [EC 1997]. The Seveso II directive applies to some thousands of industrial establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities exceeding the thresholds in the directive.
Activity
Law enforcement organizations
OSHA (Agency, EU) HSE (UK) OSHA (Administration, US)

Hazards

Accidents

Likelihood of accidents

Outcome (Losses)

Figure 1.5 The overlap of the regulators in the field of OSH with the procedure of the quantitative risk assessment

1.5

OSH REGULATION AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

It is nave on the part of managers and engineers to focus only on technical matters in the safety assurance. What industry can and can not do is mostly dictated, in many countries, by politicians and lawyers. They run legislations, courts, and government agencies. It is important to understand the legal and political processes that shape the companys future. Engineers and managers must learn how to deal with government regulations and inspections in order to reduce risks to themselves and their companies.
E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009

Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics

Safety fact*

The number of Americans who lose jobs due to legal and regulatory problems is orders of magnitude higher than the number who lose their jobs due to industrial accidents. * Kumamoto and Henley [1996: 573]

The law in the fiel of safety is enforced by regulatory organisations (regulators) which cover all activities and concomitant phenomena expressed by the procedure of risk assessment and management (Figure 1.5). Such organisations are acting in all countries along with environmental and factory inspection organisations. Activities of these organisaitons can lead to an overregulation of the safety field. The cost of regulations and law enforcement policies may exceed the actual benefit in reduced worker injury, illness, and death.
Safety fact*

From the Cambridge Leaners Dictionary: fine /fain/ adjective 1 well, 2 good, 3 excellent fine /fain/ noun an amount of money that you must pay for breaking a law or rule The finiest of all agencies [] is OSHA** . Their inspectors do not like to leave the premises with empty pockets. In 1983, the agency levied $4 million in fines, a number that avalanched to $120 million in 1994. Over half of the $120 million was for errant paperwork, not industrial safety violations. In 1993, an OSHA inspector, unable to find anything else, fined [a] company $174 for not having an employee-signed Material Data Safety Sheet for a can of store-bought, WD-40 lubrcant that the inspector spotted in a plumbers tool kit. It is patheric that regulatory agency heads do not recongnise that actions sich as these promote hostility, not industrial safety. * Kumamoto and Henley [1996: 579] ** Occupational safety and health administration (an Americal organisation charged with regulating workplace safety, see Appendix)

Examination questions
1 2 3 Define the terms risk assessment and risk management. What are the four strategies of risk management? Provide at least one example of each strategy. What is the overregulation in the field of safety?

REFERENCES
EC (1989). Council Directive 89/391/EEC the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. Official Journal of the European Communities. Luxembourg. EC (1997). European Council, Council Directive 96/82/EC on the major accident hazards of certain industrial activities (Seveso II). Official Journal of the European Communities, Luxembourg.Stranks, J. 2002. Health and Safety at Work: Key Terms. Oxford etc.: Butterworth & Heinemann. Kumamoto, H., Henley, E. J. (1996). Probabilistic Risk Assessment for Engineers and Scientists, 2nd Ed., New York: IEEE Press. Stranks, J. (2002). Health and Safety at Work: Key Terms. Oxford etc.: Butterworth & Heinemann.

APPENDIX: WEBSITES OF ORGANISATIONS European Occupational Safety and Health Administration (EASHW) URL http://www.osha.gov/

E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009

Occupational Safety Management and Engineering: Basics

EUR-Lex database: access to the European Union law URL http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm International Labour Organisation (ILO) URL http://www.ilo.org International Labour Organisation (ILO) URL http://www.ilo.org World Health Organization (WHO) URL http://www.who.org Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, the United States) URL http://www.osha.gov/

E. R. Vaidogas, Lecture notes on OSH, VGTU, 2009